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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Half of Northern Ireland patients wait more than a year for treatment

By Vaseline May30,2024
Half of Northern Ireland patients wait more than a year for treatment

IF YOU ARE someday in Northern Ireland pray that you will never need a gallbladder removal, a neurological appointment or a hip replacement. These treatments routinely require patients to wait several years before being seen. Hospital waiting lists, where the equivalent of a quarter of the population is languishing, are just the tip of the province’s healthcare crisis. According to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, three times as many people died in 2022 due to delays in emergency departments than during the worst year of the Troubles. General exercise (GP) and social care are also on the brink. People still love the National Health Service (NHSor health and social care as it is officially known in Northern Ireland). However, they increasingly admire a service that no longer exists.

Across the Irish Sea, the leaders of the main political parties may be tempted to dismiss these horrors as an outlier. After all, healthcare is a matter for decentralized governments. Before the return of the Northern Ireland government in February, the country had been without a government for two years. Northern Irish politics is still largely colored by constitutional issues, meaning healthcare can be relatively less important. “There’s a sense of ‘well, we used to kill each other’,” says Deirdre Heenan of Ulster University. Although waiting times are terrible in many parts of Britain, they are nowhere near as bad as in Northern Ireland: half of patients there wait more than a year for treatment, compared to just 4% in England.

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